Getting Down with ...

by ...

Lesson n:

A webform is a collection of HTML elements that enable users to enter information through a web page. The information can then be sent to a web server running a web application. Forms give HTML what it needs to create a user interface for web applications.

Without an application to receive the data, however, HTML forms are not of much use. To get around that problem for this tutorial, we have added a small PHP program to our website which echos back the submitted form data so you can see what it looks like and begin to think about the process of sending data to a server.

Basic Structure

Forms consist of a <form></form> element containing a collection of input elements and other descriptive markup:

form elements and other html markup

Here is a form containing several common form input elements:

Personal Info
Course Info
Web Design

Python JavaScript

Here is the source code for the above form:

<form method="GET"
<legend>Personal Info</legend>
<label>First Name: <input type="text" name="fname" size="30"></label><br>
<label>Last Name:  <input type="text" name="lname" size="30"></label>

<legend>Course Info</legend>
<input type="radio" name="course" value="webdesign"> Web Design<br>
<input type="radio" name="course" value="sql" checked> SQL<br> 
<input type="radio" name="course" value="programming"> Programming<br>
<label>Career Goal:</label><br>
<select name="goal">
  <option>Web Designer</option>
  <option>Database Administrator</option>
  <option selected>Programmer</option>
<label>Skills (check all that apply):</label><br>
<input type="checkbox" name="unix" value="1"> UNIX
<input type="checkbox" name="vim" value="1"> VIM<br>
<input type="checkbox" name="html" value="1"> HTML
<input type="checkbox" name="css" value="1"> CSS<br>
<input type="checkbox" name="python" value="1"> Python
<input type="checkbox" name="javascript" value="1"> JavaScript
<label>Describe any additional skills you have:</label><br>
<textarea name="skills" cols="70" rows="4"></textarea>
<button type="submit">Enter my information</button>

Input Types

These are the most common input types:

Text inputs give you a default width of 20 characters, which can be changed by setting a width attribute to a different value.
Radio Buttons
Radio buttons allow you to offer the user a choice among several values for the a key (name). Only one of the choices can be selected.
The checkbox type allows the user to select any number of options from among the offered choices. Each choice should have name and corresponding value attributes. The name and value are sent to the server as a pair.
The select type gives the user a choice among several values for the a key (name), like the radio type, but the choices appear in a drop down menu.
Textarea inputs hold multi-line text. The size of the displayed input box can be modified by setting cols and rows attributes.
This variation on the input type doesn't display the password as the user is typing it. It displays a dot for each character typed instead.


  1. Create a document named forms1.html with title and a top level heading set to Pizza Form. Then add each of the following in the body:
    • a form element as in the Basic Structure section above.
    • method="GET" as an attribute to the form element.
    • action="" as attribute to the form element.
    • The following three input elements:
          First Name: <input type="text" name="fname" size="25"><br>
          Last Name: <input type="text" name="lname" size="25"><br>
          Phone: <input type="text" name="phone" size="25"><br>
    • a button element with attribute type="submit" and the text Enter my information inside the element.
    When you are finished your page should look like this.
  2. Copy forms1.html from the previous exercise to a new document named forms2.html. Add each of the following to the form:
    • Enclose the three input elements (First Name, Last Name, and Phone) from the previous exercise in label elements.
    • Add a fieldset element around these three label elements and a legend element containing Personal Info. The finished product from these two steps should look like this:
          <legend>Personal Info</legend>
          <label>First Name: <input type="text" name="fname" size="25"></label><br>
          <label>Last Name: <input type="text" name="lname" size="25"></label><br>
          <label>Phone: <input type="text" name="phone" size="25"></label><br>
    When you are finished your page should look like this.
  3. Copy forms2.html from the previous exercise to a new document named forms3.html. Add a new fieldset element with legend set to Pizza. Add input elements with a type attribute set to radio for choices Small, Medium, and Large. Put a label element preceding the three input elements containing Size:. When you finish it should look something like this.
  4. Finally, copy forms3.html to forms4.html and add checkbox input elements and a label for toppings so that you create a form that looks like this.